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Republican candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl speaks during the GOP assembly at the Broadmoor World Arena on Saturday, April 9, 2022, in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

SEDALIA — Heidi Ganahl won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in Colorado on Tuesday night after fending off a primary opponent who benefited from roughly $1.5 million in spending by Democrats, most of it on TV ads, aimed at preventing Ganahl from advancing to the general election.

The Associated Press called the race in Ganahl’s favor at 7:57 p.m.

Ganahl, a University of Colorado regent and the only Republican who holds statewide office, had 53% of the vote compared to 47% for former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez as of 9:33 p.m.

There were chants of “Heidi! Heidi!” at her watch party in Sedalia when the AP called the race. Ganahl said Lopez called to concede. She will face Democratic Gov. Jared Polis in November.

“I think their dirty tricks backfired,” Ganahl said, referencing the Democratic spending in her race. “This was quite an ordeal over the last few weeks, I’m not going to lie. But my little team, my little engine that could, worked so hard over the last few weeks.”

She added: “Our team is so energized and ready for this fight. Know that we will take it to Jared Polis in the fall and win back Colorado.”

Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl speaks to supporters after winning the GOP primary. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

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Ganahl’s platform includes some big promises that she hasn’t shared the details of.

She wants to to phase down Colorado’s income tax rate to 0% in her first term while also cutting Colorado’s 22-cent gas tax, which is among the lowest in the nation, in half and still paying for infrastructure projects and repairs.

“There’s plenty of money, you guys,” she said. 

But Ganahl has not said what program she would cut to make her campaign promise a reality. Income tax revenue makes up a significant portion of the pool of money that funds the state budget. 

Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl on May 21, 2022. (Steve Peterson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Ganahl also has not answered how she would make the changes if she is elected governor and Democrats control one or both chambers of the legislature. 

Ganahl refused, until recently, to answer whether the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. “I don’t believe there was enough fraud that would have flipped the election,” she told The Colorado Sun and CBS4 in an interview after only answering the question for months by saying that Joe Biden is the president.

“Joe Biden is our president,” she previously said. “I think there’s a lot of questions about what happened in the election. And for four years the Democrats yelled ‘Russia! Russia! Russia!’ And, for the last couple years, we had some questions about what happened. I don’t understand why they’re so averse to transparency and people asking questions and gaining confidence again.”

Lopez said in a statement that he respected the voters’ decision and that he will support Ganahl’s candidacy.

“The people have chosen Heidi Ganahl,” he said, “and so do I.”

The Democratic Governors Association funded the group running ads to boost Lopez’s campaign. The spending was an indication that Democrats believe Lopez would be easier for Polis to beat in November than Ganahl.

Republican candidate for governor Greg Lopez waves during the GOP assembly at the Broadmoor World Arena on April 9, 2022, in Colorado Springs. (Hugh Carey, The Colorado Sun)

But Republicans are still the underdogs in the general election.

Polis polls well among Colorado voters and is a deep-pocketed, self-funding candidate. He has already spent more than $5 million of his own money on his 2022 reelection bid after dropping $23 million to win his first term in 2018.